Ideals of Democracy: Protests in Kashmir

Riyan Rashid

People of Jammu and Kashmir have been struggling for their right of self-determination from more than six decades. Kashmir dispute started immediately after the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947.

The 2010 civil unrest in Kashmir claimed more than 127 lives, mostly of youth, including those of juveniles like Wamiq Farooq, Zahid Farooq and Tufail Matoo. It was Kashmir's fourth generation since 1947 that was actively involved in the Kashmir dispute.

That year, Kashmir witnessed not only the peak of violations by the government forces, but also the birth of a new idea. The 2010 unrest also gave birth to the idea of openly joining the armed struggle against the Indian state, which created an atmosphere of receptive youth who had grown accustomed to the hostile situation prevalent in Kashmir.

As a result, the fear among Kashmiri youth fizzled out and boldness came to fore, a trait associated with personality development in educational institutions where one is taught to face the challenges.

Adolescence has innate ways of expression, heroism, and romance; the youth want to contribute towards social activism, as was evident from their activities in the 2014 floods when the entire Valley was inundated. For they have enormous energy when they act in tandem!

The killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander “Burhan Wani” in 2016 acted as a trigger for the youth to continue the resistance against the state. His death not only inspired dozens to join the armed struggle, but also motivated the younger generation to follow his footsteps.

To hold down these angry youth, central government forces introduced bullets and pellets, and the ruling PDP-led government added PAVA shells to make the situation worse.

On the other hand, this year, the government closed educational institutions in parts of Kashmir to maintain law and order. However, it created a dilemma and frustration among the youth. The arrests of minors and booking them under draconian laws such as Public Safety Act (PSA) worsened the situation on the ground. The situation is so critical that the students of Kashmir University are scared to leave the campus and go to their respective homes, as there is no guarantee whether they will reach home safely or next day they will find themselves behind the bars.

Whatever is the truth, it needs to be faced. In the age of information technology and social networking, deceit and lies will no longer help you cajole the people. And the truth is that Kashmir is a dispute, which needs to be resolved according to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. You must accept the fact that Kashmir belongs to none but Kashmiris. You can no longer call it as your integral part and your neighbouring country as their jugular vein. The fact is that we are tired and angry of the way you have caged us, and now no military might, political gymnasium or media campaign can hold it for you anymore. Those among you theorising about Pakistan’s involvement or so called ‘Wahabi Islam’ can remain in those delusions as long as they desire. Don’t be shocked by what is happening these days in Kashmir. You should have seen it coming since the day your government started curbing our freedom.

The way force is being used against our students reflects either your feeble mindedness or your fascist face, masked by the lie of so called democracy. One does not even treat animals the way you treat protesters here. Have you forgotten the ideals of democracy? Why don’t you understand that we have a right to protest? When you choke all the political space and crush dissent, how can you expect no reactance from common people? And most importantly how can you expect peace to prevail here?

Now let me ask your nationalist news anchors that if they may be us, what will they do? How can we love a state (Particularly its security establishment) that is up against its own people? Before discussing Kashmir why don’t you come and live here for few years? Then maybe you may need no explanation of the situation here. I do accept that sometimes people hold violent demonstrations against Indian rule, but that is not in the spirit of recklessness or because we here have any love for violence. But because you have made us feel suffocated and frustrated. We are tired of your false promises and now we don’t believe you. Why don’t you ask your politicians and Army an important question and that is: What India is getting by keeping the Kashmir dispute unresolved? What India is getting by holding the land only and not winning the people?

The problem of Kashmir remains because neither India nor Pakistan is arguing logically. If Pakistan only insists that it has the right to absorb the rest of the Kashmir because of religion and if India insists on its secularism and as a result refuses to consider any alternative solution, there is no common ground where these two sides will meet. Thus, any discussions just like those before will be futile.

It is essential to change the mindset of these countries so that they can think about the ‘unthinkable’ taboo that has prevented them to reach a logical compromise. That ‘unthinkable’ taboo is the remains of the illogical and asymmetric system imposed by India on itself, by not going through the logical steps required at the time of the partition in 1947.

If the exchange of population would have taken place in 1947, Kashmir problem could not merged, just like Bengal and Punjab in 1947, Kashmir would have been partitioned long time ago. Time has come to take these logical steps, which can solve the problem once for all and remove the fear of a nuclear war in the subcontinent.

Riyan Rashid is associated with the Department of Law, University of Kashmir

Jun 30, 2017

Riyan Rashid

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